Facts, opinions, rumors and innuendoes about the theater scene in Spokane, Washington
Jonn Jorgensen is a great actor. I remember seeing him in several things at Interplayers and a couple of times in Montana. He might be able to save this dreadful play.
Dreadful?! Merely the most significant play of the 20th century. And it's funny. Sobering, too, but full of humor. Jorgensen and McColm, I hope and trust, will bring the humor to the fore. And it's true, they're worried it's not gonna sell -- play with dreary reputation in the middle of a recession, blah blah, which just give folks more of an excuse to deliver the "I just want something happy" line ... and when do people NOT say that.To generalize: comedy makes us complacent, tragedy points out what we could strive for and be. The two tramps are us -- apparently meaningless world, just trying to get by. (As who among us is not?) AND they succeed, with style. They're paralyzed, Pozzo is cruel, Godot never appears -- but yet they keep on trying. That's inspiring in itself. I'm just really hopeful that this will be good. They won't sell many tickets, not with more sunshine around here and times being tough -- but sometimes, the people who stay away are the losers. I'm sorry, but ... "dreadful"?! That's misperceiving the last half-century (and more) of world drama. You don't like *Godot,* them's fightin' words. It isn't Neil Simon, I'll grant you that.Sorry. All are entitled to their opinions, of course. But *Godot* and *Endgame* and *Happy Days* and *Krapp's Last Tape* are all touchstones for me, and you just touched one of them in an inappropriate way.
But, Bobo, didn't you see the Beckett plays Civic did in the Studio a few years ago? My God! Dreary and dull. For these plays to have anything to say, they have to be performed and directed by people who understand them completely and have lived their lives studying these pieces. That's why I say I think Jorgensen may be able to pull it off. His life has been dedicated to theatre.
kalenksy waisted over two hours that I'll never get back. Mispronouncing and failing to deliver the word play that Becket's work deserves. I felt like this Interplayers production was put on by a very poor High School drama club. The stage was lit to the third row making it difficult not to watch the reactions of the others in the house.I feel that if this is the way that Interplayers is going; it's as good as gone.
No review yet?
No revue yet? How bad is it?
Anonymous 3/28, 11:27: Wow, do you have an axe to grind, or what? Methinks you doth protest too much. "A very poor High School drama club"? Why another vicious slam against Interplayers? It's fine to dislike a production, but your vitriol has bubbled over the top. Perhaps one shouldn't be so judgmental of things like pronunciation when one is not terribly adept with spelling or punctuation oneself. Let's encourage the business for a change, rather than rip it apart.
Like many plays I think that Godot has become painfully dated and is now currently unproducable. Like Ionesco and other "avant guarde" playwrights of their time Beckett's plays are salivated over by those that recognize the monumental shift in theatrical possibility they heralded, but that does not mean that they are producable for today's theatre audience. 60's (and earlier) avant guarde is beginning to take its place among the important but anachronistic: the beatnik era of the fifties, the cheese-ball musical revues of the 30's & 40's, Neil Simon comedies, Andrew Loyd Weber in the 80's, much of O'niell's cannon, the restoration (She Stoops to Conquer), etc...These palys are important and moved things forward, for sure. They're contribution must not be forgotten. But they have reached the point of being taught and discussed and experiemented by professionals, students, and enthusiasts, and not desperately sold by theatres needing money as "a classic you've heard of and will hopefully pay to see that you either get or you're philistines" to a paying audience of theatre goers.I've never seen a production of Godot that hasn't left at least 2/3of the audience behind.We can back this up by looking at music. Iggy & The Stooges invented punk rock but do you hear them on the radio or see their songs covered anymore? Or the hair metal bands of the eighties? The sound is still remembered and celebrated but no longer produced. And for a clear reason. Even most of the Beatles cannon has become slightly anachronistic. Learning their structures and musical patterns are essential for any aspiring musician. But Nirvana, NWA, and the great modern Indie bands are more important to this generation of musicians. Even now bands and playwrights are pushing music and theatre into fascinating and exciting new places that don't need meatphors to be relelvant to today's audiences because they are written by TODAY's artists.Those that lived through the sixties treat that era as if it is still the most important era of politics, music, theatre, art, and even love. I think as artists we need to begin to let the past become the past, to teach the lessons of that era so we can build upon them, and stop congratulating a generation that no longer pushes things forward, and begin to ask oursleves what is relevant for today? Even with it's metaphors and famous lineage I don't think Godot will reach the amount of people Interplayers will want it to nor sell the amount of tickets they hoped. And in an economy where theatres are dying every week it's not just foolish to produce anachronistic work that most people won't apreciate, it's downright ireresponsible. Godot. The Graduate. Endless revivals of Gypsy. Can we PLEASE begin to move forward?Besides Reed McColm's plays what was the last new exciting work produced in Spokane?And how's this for novelty:My name is David Andrews. I am not an actor, writer, or director. Just love theatre and tired of watching things I'm told are relevant in Director's Notes in the program while sitting bored out of my mind.
Interplayers should not be doing Godot, first of all. It is in a tough spot. In needs new leadership. It needs to find money for new leadership, it needs to get out of that building, it needs a lot of things. Most importantly it needs to settle on its product. Is it going to remain a community theatre with a professional label - if so shut down. Otherwise, artistically it must find appealing shows that are new and fresh instead of booking old faithfuls. If you do old faithfuls, you had better challenge us and this show came FAR from that ideal.
I tag Mr Andrew's remarks.Completely agree
Mr. Andrews...and Anonymous 3/31-11:12...we know what you don't want to see. How about a list of things you would like to see?
Mr Andrews and Anon did say what they wanted to see. New plays that challange us and revivals of older plays that shed new light on our times today. What we don;t need are revivals of old plays that are being done because they were once important and/or revolutionary (If that's the case it's time to pull out "Oklahoma" once again.) or simply because someone wants to act or direct them. That's not a good enough reason.
Closer by Patrick Marber, Angels in America or Homebody/Kabul by Tony Kushner, A Number by Carol Churchill, Crave by Sarah Kane, A Prayer for my Enemy by Craig Lucas... should it come available how about Black Watch by Gergory Burke?... Valparaiso by Don Delillo, The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute, Polish Joke by David Ives, Topdog/Underdog by Susan Lori-Parks, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, Take me Out by Richard Greenberg, Wit by Margaret Edson, The Goat, or Who is Syliva by Edward Albee, The Coast of Utopia or Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard... just to start. but more importantly how about commisioning new works? Or finding little performed new works? The comment above kind of nailed the point.Younger people aren't going to theatre much anymore. Which, from what I understand, is a real and clear problem. So maybe instead of somebody set in these older cannons trying to figure out what younger people might want to see and stretching metaphors so thin they can barely be seen a theatre could hire a younger person (late twenties or early thirties) to be the artistic director. Becausde nobody speaks for the youth of today like the youth of today. Nobody's more relevant to today's audiences like today's artists.And judging from the response my first post has gotten I'm not alone in my thoughts.
I should mention that ARt had begun to fill this hole. From The Dazzle to The Shape fo Things to Rabbit Hole and their planned production fo Doubt ARt was the only theatre in town that understood what people wanted to see and before it collapsed had fast become the best theatre in town. Every show I ever saw there was nearly sold to capacity. So whatever the reason it's failure I doubt it was tickets sales or the shows they were producing.
As Jean said, how about throwing some TITLES out here. "New plays that challenge us and revivals of older plays, etc" is fine, but that still leaves it open to what I think fits that description, not titles of shows you will come to see. It's easy to make broad generalizations like that, and wait for other people to "discover" a gem or new show and then pray that someone will come see it. Get pro-active or stop complaining, people. WHen Civic did Cuckoo's Nest, someone said it used to be important and someone else said it shed new light. That's what's fun about live theater, folks.
I agree ARt was the place where the kind of plays we're talking about were happening. Could Interplayers get Weaver back as AD or at least an adviser? Or are those bridges burned? He seemed to know what he was doing.
Whoah now - ARt was poorly managed - it had nice artistic vision but as the poster above said one of the things Interplayers needs is LEADERSHIP and FUNDS for that leadership. Great list of plays Mr Andrews - I would add that there are some shows (artists) that can still be safe bets and be considered pseudo fallbacks (meaning name recognition to the laymen patron) - like Sheppard and Mamet. Also, I seem to recall when Interplayers did Of Mice and Men - no one complained about them doing that kind of show then - so I have a feeling that alot of the product issue is talent level...? Maybe?YES we need new works - works that people don't know but a still-compelling-older-work DONE WELL should put people in the seats. With that said - focus on what the heart of a true regional rep theatre should be doing... and that is what Mr Andrews points out.
I partially agree with Anon 7:53 PM. I don't know what happened with ARt, but they certianly did both new plays and older plays that still resonated with today's audience (I had never heard of "Mrs Warren's Profession" before ARt did it, and now I think it was one of the best productions I've ever seen) I don;t think you can blame Michael Weaver for poor management, he didn't deal with the money from what I understand. So were his play choices part of the problem? I don't think so. I just wish he were making those choices for Interplayers. Spokane theatre and Interplayers would both be far better off.
I think this will be my last post because I don't want to seem like a crusader. Because I'm not. I am more concerned than anything. And if you read the others I ask you kindly to please read this all the way through. I am NOT saying that older palys are all terrible or shouldn't be produced. My first experience with a play that moved me was watching King Lear after my grandfather passed of Altzheimers. Godot has its place. As do all of the other plays I listed in my first post. What I am saying is that theatre is dying because theatre is aging because no new blood, vision, or direction has been allowed to enter. Seattle has been producing new works and the Intiman won their Tony while they were hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red. I understand the danger of producing only new/edgy productions.How about a new production of Strindberg? When was the last time Sophocles was produced outside of a college?I guess my point is that there is no innovation. It's the same plays done the same way, or new plays done the old way. There is no room, as far as I can tell, for a Modern Beckett to write this generation's game changer because of worries about profit and considering those works whose time has passed to still be relevant. Where is the new voice?Hamlet was directed by Trevor Nunn in the West End in 2003 and was considered the best production in a lifetime because Mr. Nunn, somebody easily considered the establishment, did something revolutionary and cast somebody the CORRECT age (a 23 year old Ben Winshaw) to play Hamlet rather than a thirty year old playing a moody child out of college. How about producing Romeo and Juliet with actual teenagers in the lead roles? Everything in theatre has gotten older and complacent. New blood is left to whither in non-union, overlooked purgatory. And audiences have registered the atrophied theatrical ideas.Older plays are fine as long as they are authentically relevant instead of produced with an excuse of metaphor. But newer contemporary plays don't run even the the slightest risk of feeling old, or irrelevant, or thin on metaphor, because... well I've made my point before.Theatre and art will never be rid of the danger of being bad or boring. But an artist's greatest sin is being completely irrelevant and forgettable. And unfortunately nobody beyond us theatre geeks tend to remember that theatre exists beyond touring shows of Disney funded Brodway, musicals that are little more than mix tapes, or staged adaptations of movies.Now, let's shake hands, recognize we're all after the same goal, and see what we can do to fix and save our failing theatres and struggling artists... Love it or hate it, go see Godot, go see local music, go see local art, go see local dance. It's easy to critique. But when nobody is left to tell us stories except the prepackaged we will all wish we'd been better to those who put themselves out there.
blog,blog,blog,blah,blah,blah.....for people who can't
Thank you...excellent list...and great discussion as well. I do need to take exception to one point made by Mr. Andrews. "ARt was the only theatre in town that understood what people wanted to see." I think every theatre in existence knows what people want to see...well-performed pieces of theatre that speak to them in some way...that touch them...make them feel, think, laugh, cry, rage, or maybe, if I may dare to say it, be entertained. See, here's the thing...there are many people, including myself, who would be excited to see the plays on your list. And many...probably more...who would not. Which leads me to think that a combination of different theatrical offerings may be what is called for. In bigger cities with more venues, theatres may be able to specialize and still hope to find an audience base wide enough to support them. In Spokane, it's more difficult. We have fewer people with more limited theatre-going dollars and a tendency to spend those dollars more conservatively. I hesitate to bring up OKLAHOMA yet again, but think about it. A lot of people came to see it, and enjoyed it. GODSPELL is currently selling out in the Studio. Also in the Studio, WOMEN OF LOCHERBIE sold very well while above their heads, the tapping feet of NO, NO, NANETTE had some full houses, too. Each of these shows has a very different kind of appeal, but each of them does appeal to many theatre goers. There is, or should be, room for all of it. Which is why we need to build not a better community theatre or a better regional theatre but a better community OF theatre in Spokane. It's a frustrating, but sadly true fact that those of us who DO theatre in Spokane - and would love to see more of those shows on your list - are probably among the least able to find the time and the funds to attend and support theatre in Spokane as much as we would like...but we should try. We should strive for excellence and hold ourselves to high standards; but we should also forgive ourselves and each other when things aren't perfect. And we must continue the extremely difficult task of building - and respecting - our audience. We should be breaking our backs to give Mr. Andrews what he craves; but Mr. Andrews also needs to keep in mind that no one sets out to do something bad. I guarantee you that each and every piece we do is a labor of love. That we don't all love the same things in the same way is not a good thing or a bad thing, just a true thing.
Thank you Jean, very well said (the 11:55 AM post).~Swan
Well said Jean, but I tink what Andrews is probing at is that Interpayers needs better leadership and is not criticizing out efforts but rather the goals/decisions made by executives and directors or the past and current struggling organizations.
I think Jean just posted one of the best written and most thoughtful comments this blog has ever seen (I'm not being passive-aggresive here -- I mean it!) I think this is the kind of conversation we should be having. Thank you, Jean, for raising the bar here. I hope everyone, including myself, can carry the baton forward, with grace and respect.Having said all that, I respectfully do not completely agree with all of Jean's thoughts - I think ARt and Civic does (or did) terrific jobs in coming up with balanced seasons. I think Interplayers does not. Yes, there are popular hits with the lesser known works, but other than Godot there is no play being done this season there that the average person on the street has ever heard of. Maybe the Graduate -- but not as a play, and certainly not as a play that bombed on Broadway. Likewise, there is no cutting-edge new work, like Mr Andrews mentioned (also a thoughtful and respectful post.) Where is the balance? A badly written and produced cow-girl musical? Where is Of Mice and Men or Othello or Born Yesterday? There are revivals that worked recently in Spokane, but Interplayers doesn't seem to be looking for those any more.
Agreed - revivals work - period. We see it at the Round-a-bout in NY all the time. Crimes, Cuckoo's Nest, etc.... so Interplayers can/should do them (hopefully better that Gogot came off) but for the most part see Mr. Andrew's post above)
Here's a fun game! Any want to post who should RUN Interplayers?I'll Start. No backlashing now on others suggestions- just for fun - post your personal desire :-)MAYBE - someone on the board just might consider one of these a viable candidate!Brian Doig
I think the Board may already be thinking along those lines with Reed and Karen...? I would personally like to see it similar to "the old days", with an Artistic Team who is able to Direct and Act, as well as choose and contract great seasons. This was something Bob and Joan were able to do for 20 years, so I know it's possible. As for names, who knows...Bill and Sara Edlin-Marlowe come immediately to mind, but I'm sure there are other people out there as well, and not even necessarily a married couple. I do think Reed and Karen should be given their chance first, for at least a few seasons. The other thing is, in my opinion, the damage to this theatre (reputation as well as production value) was started before the current Board, and we should allow them TIME to straighten out, as well as assistance. After all, they are not really familiar with the internal ways a theatre works, and they ARE trying.
yes but it is fun to dream
There have been several suggestions for Artistic Directors for Interplayers in the posts above. Here is another list of AD possiblities (that I'd like to see at least, and I think should be considered):Michael Weaver (Let's face it, he knows how to do it and he knows that space -- he's done something like 80 productions there. Really.)Patrick Treadway (Who is just good at most everything)Jonn Jorgensen (Didn't he run a theatre in Montana?)Bill and/or Sara Marlowe (They know their stff. Enough said)Caryn Hoaglund (She's been around a lot of theatres, ADs and she isn't afraid to ask for advice.)Roger Welch (Could he run two theatres at once?)I like the idea in a post above of two people running the place. Two points of view, two people to share the work load. So what would happen if Interplayers hired Partick Treadway and Bill Marlowe or Michael Weaver and Jonn Jorgensen (aren't they old friends?)Just my two cents.
These are great names but so far I don't some anyone with MANAGEMENT SKILLS - we talking someone that can handle people, go get money, and market the joint - the problem is that most of the aforementioned people are strictly artistic. This theatre needs something like 500,000 to just make it.I think Nickerson should be the AD but again, I don't have a recommendation for the exec side - maybe Patrick Kroetch? or a Tom Heppler - someone with some people skills!
There are university programs for Managing Directors. Where are those graduates? the hire one of the artistic people above.And what about Tralen Doler?
Tralen would bring nice young energy.
Perhaps Patty Duke would accept the AD position.
To bring the discussion sort of full circle, I just wanted to say that I finally got to see WAITING FOR GODOT tonight. I thought that while not perfect, it was very good, Jonn Jorgensen was wonderful and Reed McColm was simply stunning. If this play, with its ambiguities about the human condition, is not universally relevant, then I don't know what is. At least three of the people in my row - all 50+ types - discovered this play tonight for the first time - and were quite captivated. Congrats, Interplayers, on a fine production.
Just wanted to comment that this is one of the most thoughtful and respectful discussions of local theatre I've ever seen on this blog. Let's keep it going!